US unveils guidance for federal vaccine mandate, exemptions

With simply weeks remaining earlier than federal employees should be vaccinated towards COVID-19, the federal authorities on Monday outlined procedures for workers to request medical or non secular exemptions from President Joe Biden’s mandate.

The Workplace of Administration and Funds launched the brand new steerage Monday afternoon forward of the Nov. 22 deadline for employees to be totally vaccinated, outlining particular medical situations that may warrant an exemption. Beneath the rules, businesses are to direct employees to get their first shot inside two weeks of an exemption request being denied, or the decision of a medical situation. Additionally they clarify that federal businesses could deny medical or non secular exemptions in the event that they decide that no different security protocol is ample.

The Biden administration is drawing on Facilities for Illness Management and Prevention steerage to find out accepted medical exemptions, together with a historical past of allergic response to the vaccines. Different situations, together with being handled with monoclonal antibodies or having a historical past of multisystem inflammatory syndrome, warrant a 90-day delay in vaccination, in accordance with CDC recommendation.

Whereas the CDC recommends that girls who’re pregnant or are planning to change into pregnant get vaccinated towards COVID-19, the federal authorities will think about requests to delay vaccination whereas pregnant relying on the employee’s specific medical circumstances.

Senior administration officers offered The Related Press with a preview of the brand new steerage Monday earlier than it was posted by OMB.

Federal employees searching for exemptions will have interaction in what officers known as an “interactive course of” with their businesses, which can embody being requested to offer documentation to help the exemption and potential lodging. Within the occasion an exemption request is rejected, employees may have two weeks to get a primary shot, or be topic to disciplinary proceedings in accordance with Biden’s order.

Unvaccinated employees are required to put on masks and preserve social distancing and may have their skill to journey for work curtailed. New testing steerage for individuals who are granted exemptions is anticipated to be unveiled within the coming weeks.

In some instances, businesses could deny even professional exemption requests in the event that they decide “that no security protocol aside from vaccination is ample” given the character of the worker’s job.

Beneath CDC tips, individuals are solely thought-about totally vaccinated two weeks after their second dose of two-shot mRNA vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna or the one-dose Johnson & Johnson shot — which means most federal employees have till Nov. 8, on the newest, to roll up their sleeves to adjust to Biden’s order.

In accordance with the brand new federal steerage, neither previous COVID-19 an infection nor an antibody check will be substituted for vaccination.

In the meantime, non-public firms with greater than 100 staff will probably be topic to a forthcoming rule from the Occupational Security and Well being Administration requiring all staff to be vaccinated or get examined weekly. Biden introduced the regulation weeks in the past, however the company continues to be drafting the particulars.

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